Friday 31 December 2010

2010 Season Archive

Cirencester Cross Duathlon 4th.
I have to say, I had underestimated the quality of both the field and the race here. With over 400 people racing it was such a great advert for Duathlon and cross duathlon at that.  It has to be said that if an event like this can attract more entries than British Triathlon's national series then they are doing something very right....
It was a great race with Dave Roper absolutely dominating and although I wanted to get one over my old sparring partner Lee Rankin he came 2nd and looked like he was flying too. Nothing too much more to report though. A solid performance if not quite sparkling although I have to say I am still munching my way through the remainders of a packet of antibiotics as we speak so I was never going to be absolutely pinging.  Great mud, good hills and I have to say, absolutely spiffing to see see the plonker who tried to knock me off on the bike dq'd for illegal helmetry in transition. Far be it for me to break my golden rule of never using my site to chastise others but if you will,'re an elephantine muppet.  I thank you.
next stop - the Wildman...
Go Beyond Ultra Brentford Trail 10k  1st place and a new course record.
I had a great time today doing a super hard off-road 10k in Weald Country park in Essex and won in a new course record so it was a pleasing outing all around. Andy Reeves from Serpentine kept me on my toes always not far behind but I resolved to use the middle 1 of  5 laps to really put the pressure on as we wound out way up and down the wooded valley in which it was held to open up a gap of over a minute by the end.  It was a pleasing outing and having finished I headed out for another hour or trail running but still in my spikes which is always a challenge!  Weald country park is a real Essex gem with beautiful lakes, rolling hills and secluded woodland not to mention it's own resident herd of deer. Do deer come in herds?.... I think so...  Anyway. Here's a pic of me coming through the woods on my last lap.

Mud and Mayhem Cross Duathlon, Swinley Forest, Reading.  2nd
The following diary entry is taken from my blog at my sponsors
I'd never been to Swinley Forest before but I did know it has a great reputation for mountain biking as one of those 'must ride' trail centres in the South of England and having done the Mud and Mayhem there I can now see why. The race course and transition were deep into the forest and in the centre of the 'Expert' riding area which seems to have been put safely beyond the reach of newbie riders by putting it as far from the car park as possible and I can see why. There are some pretty gnarly trails and a million roots to catch you out should you relax for a millisecond. It reminded me very much of the course for the Torq in your Sleep 12 hour race I'd done in the summer which was not far away from there.
Warming up, I immediately recognised the face of Frenchman Cedric Lassonde who, as I write will be in Maui for the world Xterra champs. I was fairly confident that I could match him on the run and the bike... we'd have to see....  Well, we were together for most of the opening 5k cross country run until he pulled away from me just before transition to gain about 15 seconds on me. All was going to plan but I simply had no answer to his superior skills off road. He put a big gap into me in the twisty, rooty single track on the mountain bike and try as I might I just couldn't get anywhere near him. I'm still working damn hard trying to keep learning to be able to rdie with the very best in teh technical stuff off woods and I'm getting there, root by root, berm by berm.....  the final run was a formality of pace maintenance (as always in Duathlon) and I was pleased to see Dean Rickets who I've known for years in really good form and coming in to take third place.  It was a good day out! I was then  persuaded by some training buddies to head out with them for a couple of extra road hours in the afternoon. It was a ride on which in my post race haze I forgot to take a few packets of Sport Beans and I promptly blew up after 90 minutes and I mean hollow, pale, empty, can't feel the pedals, want to curl up and god to sleep on a bed of fish and chips type of blowing-up. Those of you who've been there will know exactly what I mean and those who haven't....... keep popping those Sport Beans.
With my desire to further push myself to keep improving my mountain biking skills, a week later I headed off  in my campervan to the Quantock Hills in north Somerset to ride some of the amazing exposed single track there. To my delight I crashed heavily when my front wheel dug into a crevice in the hill side. this is always a good thing where no breakages are concerned because as I keep telling the cyclo-cross riders i am currently coaching "it's only by periodically exceeding your limits that you know what your limits are!"
Next up, a couple of smaller Cross Dus, one in Dorset and one in Gloucestershire in the build up to the Wildman exactly a month from now.    
September Cross Duathlon update.  2nd at Chelmsford Cross Du  and 3rd at the XTD (again....doh!)
The Winter Cross Duathlon season has started in sunny fashion with both Chelmsford and the XTD at the Xtreme Terrain festival being run in glorious sunshine.
My aim at Chelmsford was to beat my course records and unlike last year where I was out front by myself the whole race, this year I had a head to head with Hugo Hucknell of team Spiuk which actually resulted in us both smashing the course records on all legs. much as we kept trying to break each other it came down to a sprint finish and Hugo deservedly beat me by 6 seconds.  It made for a good, hard race, not least when Hugo has attacking me on his cross bike. With me being on my Cannondale Flash I was forced to make the most of the technical stuff in the woods and so it became a great battle.

The XTD was equally tough with Julien L'Homme and Iain Payne in teh field and although Julien and I got a far way ahead on run 1 it didn't stop Iain catching bth of us on the bike before he then went on to come 2nd. Once again it was a great day, another cold but sunny one and yet another demonstration of what awesome trails and forests the army have hidden within their surrey heartland.  I've put some of the photos in here.
Next up, back to the same army territory for the Mud and Mayhem Duathlon in Swinley Forest.
13th September. Chiltern international Aquathlon. 1st! (with Leda swimming!..)
Another win  for team Cox! We're bound to come unstuck eventually.  This race was a great opportunity for both of us to get in some quality lung-time ahead of the Xtreme terrain festival in two weeks where Leda is challenging herself and having (fun) by doing the 1500m open water swim and I am doing the off road Du. It was held at the wonderfully serene outdoor pool in Chesham, Bucks on a gorgeous sunny morning and Leda's swim was a massive boost to her, going 2 minutes quicker than she has ever swum for the 400m before.   The fact that this was on the 1 year anniversary of her second spinal surgery operation was a cause for celebration in our household as it is genuinely only by God's grace that Leda is able to swim let alone walk so it really was a great morning.     Once she had tagged me, the run went up the hill to Old Amersham and then back down again to total 5k. I felt crap but on the plus side was nearly sick when I finished which is always a good sign for me! I managed to hold it in though and actually, my time and the time I took back on the other runners meant we had well over a minute's lead by the end.  We were cheating though as the others had to do the whole thing by themsleves but still, it was a good day out. 
It's Tuesday morning now and I'm about to head out and do what my clients know as the 'continualhills' session in Stanborough Park, Welwyn.  That basically means running non-stop up and down the escarpment by the lake for 40 mins in a 90 min run. My clients love it...... hmm...  Anyway- next stop, this Saturday at the Chelmsford mtb Duathlon in Hylands Park with the aim of hammering my course record now that I'm on a top end mtb and not a late 90's ex-soviet scud-launcher. Should be fun!
6th September racing update     Welsh nationals, 1st team.  St Ives cross Country MTB 5th (elite).  Torq in your sleep 12 hr MTB XC 5th (mixed pairs)
I've been really bad at updating of late so here's a quick one. The Afan race, which was the Welsh National champs actually turned out to be a bit of an epic. The course was awesome and it hacked down with rain which always makes for a good one. It was great to be able to race as 'team cox' with Leda doing the swim. The only thing we hadn't banked on was the fact that the rules dictated she had to run from the pool  down the hill on the road and to the valley bottom in order to tag me so that I could start the mountain bike leg before the xc run.  Leda swam really well and thankfully her spine survived the jarring run down the hill and into T1!  The bike course was absolutely wicked, taking in all the best bits of the Afan forest trail centre with the zig-zag decent and some brilliant climbs. I felt strong and rode to the fastest bike leg by about three minutes before finishing off with a fairly flat xc run in the valley bottom. We did what we set out to do which was to enjoy a great part of Wales and became national team champions in the process! Its just a shame we aren't Welsh. Tri and Enter put on yet another great race and it was a good example of why they simply ARE Triathlon in Wales.
With Daz Parker (current world Amateur Xterra champ and Bike and Run team mate) and I entered for one of the UK's biggest 12 hr enduro mountain bike races I decided to enter the St Ives XC races in late August and waas pleased with my form coming 5th in a good field so everything was going in the right direction.   The following week was the big 12 hr race at Minley Manor, the 12:12 Torq in your sleep enduro. Daz and I started hard (maybe too hard) and we made the most of the daylight hours. Both riding our 2010 Cannondales from Bike and Run we headed into the night hours with our lights on and ended up finishing 5th by midnight.  Sorry if my write up sounds boring but looking back it really was one long 12 hour slog. there was certainly some gnarly bits and some really techy stuff which kept me alert all the way through but as I suspected it would be it became a lot like the stage races that I became used to riding as a roadie - you just settle into a rhythm and keep going.
Next up, I do at last get my teeth into some run-bike-run action with the start of the off road duathlons.   I'm doing the Chiltern International Aquathlon with Leda this Sunday (and yes- she's swimming) before the Chelmsford Duathlon and then my nemesis, the XTD Duathlon at the Xtreme Triathlon festival in Hawley, Surrey.  I hope to see some of you guys there.

26th June 2010     Off Road Update
Although it's been quiet due to a distinct lack of off road duathlons my preparations and training races have been going well and I'm starting to feel the multiterrain form that should at least see me enjoying the course at the Afan race next month. I thought I'd put an update here with a couple of pics of my lovely new steed that my sponsors Bike and Run  got for me this year. they've been a Cannondale main dealer for a long time and the Flash 4 is the lightest and stiffest carbon frameset in the world. It's certainly made a big difference for me having been using my trusty old GT Zaskar previously. there's also a pic in there of me on the Zaskar for the last time while the 'Dale was being built up and Bike and Run in North Finchley. It was a few weeks ago at the Beastway MTB race at Hog Hill.
yes- it's tasty, I know.....  Now to do it justice.  It.......Her......Him........ It's red and blue. I can't decide!
14th May 2010      My  2010 Race Programme:            Target: Cross Duathlon Domination. (very cross......)
May:  Gower Monster XC 10k./ Beastway MTB XC / Wheathapstead 10k XC / Herts Mid week RR league
June:  Hawridge International duathlon  / Herts mid week RR league / Beastway MTB XC  Herts mid week RR league
July:  Sounthern MTB XC series  / Hillingdon draft legal du / Herts Mid week RR league / Beastway MTB XC  Milton Keynes Trail Half Marathon
August:  Cymar Afan offroad Tri (with a swimmer as relay) / National tri Team Relays / Southern MTB XC  Beastway MTB XC
September:   Either:   First Monster Iron Monster 40k/80k Duathlon, Loch Ness  or / Moreton Worrel Cross Duathlon  Hillingdon draft Legal Duathlon / XTD cross Duathlon.
October:  Abbots wood Cross Duathlon / Mud and Mayhem cross Duathlon / Chelmsford Cross Duathlon. / (possibly racing in Australia � Duathlon at end of October)
 November:  Ballbuster Duathlon / Cirencester cross Duathlon / Wildman Cross Duathlon
December:  Mudman Cross Duathlon / Rempstone Roast Cross Duathlon
January: Iceman cross Duathlon
February: Tuffman cross Duathlon.
20th February 2010
Click here to read my UK Duathlon season preview with all the best races and my tips for the 'inside line'....  oh. Actually, its here:

2010 UK Spring Duathlon Season Preview.
In association with

          The evenings are just starting to get lighter and all across the country people are starting to feel that racing itch having suffered a winter disrupted with snow and cold weather. Before you know it Spring Duathlons will be blossoming all over the country and the ever growing mix of newcomers, old timers and Triathletes looking to taste the greener grass of Duathlon’s pastures will be donning their lycra and pinning on numbers.

          This spring promises to blossom early than ever in Duathlon’s history with the national Duathlon Championships being held at the Clumber Park Duathlon on the 6th of March. Knowing the large number of athletes that want the chance to test themselves against the best nationally this will mean that many will be revved up and ready to go from March onwards so I have chosen 6 must-do races this spring and some of my inside tips on how to get the most from them.

           With this year’s European Championships being in Nancy, France on May 1st and then the Worlds at the other end of the season in Edinburgh many Duathletes will be thinking of trying to qualify for Age Group teams for one of or both and the qualification races are:

ETU European Duathlon Champs. Nancy, France:
Clumber Classic Duathlon 6th March
Stirling University Duathlon 28th March
Steyning Duathlon 5th April

ITU World Duathlon Champs. Edinburgh, Scotland:
Clumber Classic Duathlon 6th March
Stirling University Duathlon 28th March
Big-Cow Emberton Duathlon 11th April
Cambridge Duathlon 2nd May

For more information on applying for the age group teams and the qualification process click here:

I’ll start by previewing 3 big Classic races:

1)      6th March.  Clumber Classic Duathlon. Notts.  BTA National Championships.
      10k / 40k / 5K

        This is not one of the oldest Duathlons on the UK scene but has rightly gained itself a reputation amongst the best UK races. With a rolling run on closed roads within the park it provides an ideal competitive testing ground for running form before heading out onto the bike. Classic distance athletes find themselves doing two out and back runs on the first run and this is an ideal platform for seeing where you are in the race and where your rivals are too.  Just make sure you practice the “I’m gonna catch you even though you’re 3 minutes ahead of me” look for the second lap when the leader comes past. Either that or be the leader…..Your choice! 
       The bike leg is a strong bikers dream.  I went from 7th after a bad run up to 1st with a minutes’ lead by the end of the bike leg in the 2007 race and this was proof that if you have a bad run (and I was crawling by the end!) you can still make good inroads on this course.  It’s the sort of bike course that suits strong efficient bikers that can hold a good rhythm and if that’s not you then my top tip might just help:

Top Tip:  The bike course takes in a long main road before you head back into Clumber Park and on this there is a painted white or yellow line which appears intermittently along the edge of it. When it does, try to ride on it and stay on it. You’ll find it’s much smoother and faster that the standard tarmac. Just make sure you keep focussed on the road conditions around you and take care if it’s wet because the lines can become slippery.

2)      Big-Cow Emberton Duathlon.  10k / 40k / 5k
                The Emberton race is a classic which has become a mainstay of the national series and has hosted a number of National championships. It’s a course which has rarely changed and as a result many of the competitors this year will have raced there before so, if you haven’t, a drive around the bike course in advance would be advantageous so that you can see where the hills are and get a feel for the course overall.  The run course is utterly pan flat as it uses multiple laps of a series of lakes on a service road.  This could be seen as a blessing but that would depend what kind of runner you are. Being pan flat means that it becomes what I call a ‘rhythm run’;  meaning that your rhythm should hardly ever change save for the occasional speed bump on the way round. This can be some people’s downfall though. Where Clumber has an early hill to force athletes to back off a bit and pace it Emberton Park has none of that and so it can be easy to run too fast over the first 5k and then suffer badly over the second half as a result. Careful Pacing is the key on the first run.  The bike course is open and exposed and has two climbs of note on it. They are longer rolling climbs and again, when paced out correctly shouldn’t leave you struggling to recover too much after them.

Top Tip:  After your second transition, going out onto the final run, aim to have a lighting quick transition but then run just within yourself and holding back for the first 30 seconds. That will allow you to get beyond transition and onto the road having crossed a narrow section of off road trail.  Running within yourself for those 30 seconds will just allow for your body to adapt without risking cramping before you unleash the beast on the final run. Oh-  and never EVER look back. It serves no purpose…..

3)      Steyning Duathlon, Sussex.  5th April

             Steyning has long been held on Easter Bank holiday Monday and this has always been a mixed blessing in the past. The fact that it is on a bank holiday means that the town centre run course and transition area become packed with people out to watch a good race and as such the atmosphere is excellent. The fact that the bike course for many years has snaked close to one of the main trunk roads down to the coast has been the source of problems in terms of traffic bunching up. The organisers have stuck with the date and now seem to have found the perfect all round bike course which has a mix of fast stretches and some testing hills.  This is a race to do for the atmosphere on the run course, the slightly shorter first run (which suites the strong bikers!) and the fact that it’s the ideal opportunity to take family and friends so that once the race action is over you can go and sample the coast (at spring time) which is just a short drive away.

Top Tip:  I’d say the majority of people overcook the first 3k of the opening run by going too fast. It starts downhill and has a great crowd spread along the main street which your ego will want to dash along but trust me, once on the quieter back road you’ll be paying for it before you turn back onto the high street again. Even pacing and tunnel vision might just help you stay on track on the first run.   

Now I’ve chosen some smaller races which really deserve a big reputation.
These are my Hidden Jewels:

Maidstone Duathlon, Kent. 7th March.  

Course: A rolling country lane first run followed by a rolling (mostly) A-road bike course which is fast and exciting. The out and back nature makes it ideal for measuring your effort. A straight up and down two sides of a hill makes the short final run. Lovely people, nice atmosphere and easy to get to just off the A2 in Kent.

Top Tip: For your warm up, run right out of the car park and up what will be the hill for the final run so that you can run the length of it and know how to pace it at the end of the race.

1485 No Frills Duathlon, Market Bosworth. 21st March. 5k / 14m / 5k

Course: A pan flat run around a picturesque water park followed by a rolling country lane bike course. The bike course is a great blend of testing rises and fast windy lane sections. The final run is another flat fast run out to a turn and back.

Top Tip: Wear trail shoes for the run sections if you have them. You could even wear cross country ‘spikes’ just whack some elastic laces in them to save time.   

Knockburn Duathlon, Aberdeen, Scotland. 4k / 17k/ 4k
Duathlon is set to be a big part of Scotland’s sporting landscape in 2010 with the World championships being held there in September. The Knockburn Duathlon is the final round of the Aberdeenshire winter series and comes not long after the Stirling world championships qualifier so it’s an ideal time for Scottish Duathletes to polish their form on a beautiful course.
Course:  A loch-side first run gives way to a hilly and exposed cycle section before doing exactly the same run again.

Top Tip: The bike course has some tight and fast turns on it. Always remember: try to take these bends by going wide, tight, wide by clipping across the apex of the bend and staying low on the bike to maintain a low centre of gravity. Obviously make sure that you ride safely within the lane though.  

Gower Duathlon, Wales. 15th May. (Welsh Championships) 10k/40k/5k
This young but ambitious event has gained the status of a Welsh Championship this year which should be the start of it growing into being one of the all time great British Duathlons. It deserves it with a course like that!

Course: A slightly rolling cliff top run overlooking Rhossili beach will take your breath away before you head out onto a hard but exhilarating bike loop which takes in most of the Gower peninsula and really shows off the landscape before heading out and back to another stunning view which you could easily have missed on the final cliff top run. The views are so good you’ll feel guilty for not stopping!

Top Tip: Make sure your tyres are well inflated. If it’s wet you would be better leaving them at your standard pressure that letting any air out for better traction as it’s a rural loop with often gritty roads and you don’t want a puncture to ruin a great day out. Soft tyres deform more easily around a piece of grit or a thorn and welcome it into it’s rubbery clutch. A hard tyre says “Oi! Thorn! No!”  and leave’s it sitting upright for the next person behind you ;-)